The Polish education minister Anna Zalewska told Poland’s “Super Express” daily that she has been convincing PM Mateusz Morawiecki to introduce teachers’ yearly pay-rise to improve their subsistence.
“It’s about a regular pay-rise,” said Ms Zalewska, adding that “teachers do not earn enough” and that “a teacher needs to be well paid.”
Nevertheless, the minister stressed that teachers “are already earning more. From 2017 to 2019 a trainee teacher’s salary was increased by PLN 500 [EUR 116],” adding that “throughout the next 17 months, teachers’ salaries will increase by 16.1 percent. A total of PLN 6.3 bln [EUR 1.46 bln] of the state budget for 2017-2020 has been earmarked for teachers’ pay-rise. That is a lot of money.”
She also said that “could the budget afford that, we would have given teachers more. The reality is such that during [the now opposition] PO-PSL coalition rule, there had been no teachers’ pay-rise since 2012, whereas we have increased the remuneration.”
Teachers’ unions are demanding a PLN 1,000 (EUR 232) monthly wage hike for teachers. They have organised referenda in various schools across Poland asking whether teachers want to organise a strike. The strike will commence on April 8, if referenda in schools give them the green light. It may affect the final exams in primary and junior high schools, scheduled for April 10-12 and April 15-17 respectively.
The final high school exams (matura), required to start university-level education, are to set to begin on May 6.
’Be by your pupils, by the children’
The minister also appealed to the protesting teachers during a Friday press conference to be “by your pupils, by the children’s side. May you be emotional only about the best results of their exams.”
“The Central Examination Commission is ready to carry out the exams and appeals to the teachers to be by their pupils’ side,” said Ms Zalewska, adding that “for millions of pupils a special time of the most important exams approaches.”
Teachers’ union responds
For his part the Polish Teachers Union (ZNP) head Sławomir Broniarz said that “the Minister’s ‘stories’ about what has already been done are just ‘stories’. None of our requests has been fulfilled. By the way, one of the requests was Minister Zalewska’s dismissal.”
He also said that the protesting teachers “are, have been and will be by our pupils’ side, even when Ms Zalewska concludes her EP campaign. Minister Anna Zalewska is the chaos-maker that will bring about the demise of Polish schools,” adding that trainee teacher’s current salary amounts to PLN 1,804 [EUR 420].